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World Cup 2022 Daily Preview: Morocco/Spain, Portugal/Switzerland wrap up Round of 16

The final 2 teams punch their respective tickets to the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

Japan v Spain: Group E - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Only 2 places remain in the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. So far, things have (largely) gone to plan as the Netherlands brushed aside the United States 3-1, while Brazil (4-1 over South Korea), England (3-0 over Senegal), and France (3-1 over Poland) didn’t face overwhelming challenges in their respective matches. The only nailbiter in the Round of 16 was Japan and Croatia finishing 1-1 before the Croats won 3-1 in penalties.

On Tuesday, Morocco and Spain start things off in Al Rayyan while Portugal and Switzerland take the field in Lusail. Here’s a look at the final 2 matches of the Round of 16:

Morocco vs. Spain — 10:00 a.m.

How to Watch

FOX, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

Morocco found itself a shock winner of its group as it played Croatia to a scoreless draw before topping favored Belgium 2-0 on a pair of 2nd-half goals and topping Canada 2-1. To put things in perspective, it’s played in 5 prior World Cups (1970, 1986, 1994, 1998, and 2018), only making the knockout round in ‘86. That said, it faces its biggest challenge yet in a Spanish side that might be ripe for the picking: La Roja did roll past Costa Rica 7-0, but the rest of the tournament hasn’t been quite that easy as they drew with Germany and fell to Japan in the group stage. Needless to say, the Moroccans have nothing to lose at this point, and there’s bound to be more than a few neutrals taking the side of the only remaining underdog in the World Cup.

Player to Watch: Alvaro Morata

Spain Training Session and Press Conference - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Spain’s hopes may be pinned on the play of the Atlético Madrid man on Tuesday. He’s scored in each of the team’s group-stage matches and will need to navigate what’s been a stingy Moroccan defense to secure passage for the Spanish to their first quarterfinal appearance since 2010 when they eventually won the tournament.

Portugal vs Switzerland — 2 p.m.

How to Watch

FOX, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

There’s a little drama in the Portuguese camp! Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s been in the headlines for off-the-field matters, has now made headlines for leaving the field in a huff in the 65th minute of Portugal’s eventual 2-1 loss to South Korea (which secured it a place in the knockout rounds...only to get bulldozed by Brazil). That’s on top of a verbal tiff he had with one of the Korean players. It’s led to questions of whether he’ll even start against the Swiss. Speaking of the Swiss, is this the year they finally escape the Round of 16? They’ve played in the last 4 tournaments after missing out in 1998 and 2002 and were bounced in their 1st game in the knockout stages in 2006, didn’t get out of their group in 2010, and failed to advance past the Round of 16 in 2014 and 2018.

Player to Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal Training Session - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The enigmatic forward will command attention whether he’s in the starting XI or not. At 37, this figures to be his last World Cup, and with his country looking for a first quarterfinal appearance since 2006’s semifinal showing, seeing things end on this note will put a massive damper on a legacy that’s taken its hits in recent weeks (and arguably long before that).